Week One In Barcelona Sees Testers Get Serious


Kicking off the first of three test sessions was a simple affair. All teams except for Williams attended with their 2013 cars with the main goal of the week being to ensure reliable running, without technical issues. Some were not so lucky, with Mercedes in particular suffering two dreadful days out of four while Ferrari enjoyed a much improved first outing for their new car compared to its 2012 counterpart.

The first of two test sessions in Barcelona was a chance for the less reliable to iron out their gremlins but at a cost of being behind on their schedules. With every new car comes various programs and tasks a team must use to put it through its paces. Those who had made a smoother path through the previous test session could now begin working on finding performance in their car rather than just the running of the machinery.

Red Bull were among the teams who were looking for performance, and although Sebastian Vettel stopped his car on day one of the week with a hydraulics issue, Vettel said that he was not worried that he might suffer such problems during the season and said his team were solely focused on themselves.

“This circuit has always been a good indicator of whether you have a good car or not,” Vettel admitted, “but at this stage it’s still very difficult to judge what we do compared to the rest.

“To be honest we’re not that bothered. We have plenty of stuff going on in our garage.”

“We have done a lot of improvements so you cannot compare to the car we had one year ago.

“I think we have been in good shape today. I’m quite happy with the car and the balance, and quite a bit happier than how we started last year.”

Ferrari have started testing better than the struggles of last year

Ferrari have started testing better than the struggles of last year

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took the top spot in total amount of mileage covered by any driver, as one of only two drivers to drive over 1000 km, the other being Marussia’s Max Chilton. Alonso said that Ferrari should be capable of being in title contention this year, after bringing the 2012 championship down to the final race, a feat especially impressive when the Scuderia started the season some way off the leading pack.

“We need to improve on what we did last year because obviously it was not enough, we finished second and we want to finish first.

“To improve on the first part of the year is not going to be too difficult so we are relatively confident.

“I fought for the championship last year with a car that was two seconds off the pace in the winter.

“So we need to be positive and think that we will fight for the championship again this year if we improve the car a little bit.”

Button was unsure of the car's direction but did have praise for it

Button was unsure of the car’s direction but did have praise for it

McLaren came away from the first four days in Barcelona in a puzzled state of mind. Sergio Perez set the fastest lap of the week on the second day of running, but Jenson Button gave a mixed message on the car’s balance.

“It’s been very tricky to understand where the car is,” he said.

“At times the car feels good, at other times it doesn’t.

“A lot of that is basically understanding the car that we have and understanding the way it’s working and making sure it’s working the way we expect it. Some of the time that hasn’t been the case.

“But there are times when the car’s working pretty well. Today on hards I did a 1m22.8s, which I don’t think is a bad lap with the fuel that we had on board. And Checo [Sergio Perez] did a 1m21.8s on softs yesterday, which is also pretty good.”

Early times suggest Lotus look good

Early times suggest Lotus look good

Lotus had a pleasing week with a car which appears to be in the pace of its rivals, but Kimi Raikkonen suffered a gearbox problem on Wednesday which ended running that had already been shortened by a data issue at the team’s garage. Raikkonen however was unconcerned and said that it may not affect the pace of the car.

“Even if you don’t do any testing you might go to the race and be fast and have no issue,” he said.

“If you do 10,000 kilometres you still might have an issue. Whatever laps you do, you might be OK or not OK.

“That’s testing, there are problems and you learn from those.

“It’s not like if we cannot manage 150 laps [on a test day] it’s going to change our season.”

Mercedes had some of their running disrupted again

Mercedes had some of their running disrupted again

Mercedes went through a difficult period at the first test session of the year when they lost two days due to a crash with Hamilton and technical troubles. While they did not get away free of problems at Barcelona, both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were adamant that Mercedes were moving forward.

“The car feels decent out there. That’s a good start,” Rosberg said.

“It’s a much, much better base. You can feel its centre of gravity is lower. The aero is better. The platform is better.

“It feels a lot stronger. It’s a pleasure to drive because it’s a lot faster than last year.”

“We’re just focusing on ourselves and working on our programme for the first race, and it’s going in the right direction,” said Hamilton.

“At the last test the tyres didn’t behave so well because the car wasn’t behaving so well. Here it’s much better.”

Sauber had eyes on them a new livery and new driver in Nico Hulkenberg

Sauber had eyes on them a new livery and new driver in Nico Hulkenberg

Sauber’s chief designer was happy that the Swiss team have Nico Hulkenberg in the team which was the surprise car of 2012 as he explained what makes the German such an asset. Hulkenberg set the third fastest time of the week and drove the fifth highest amount of mileage.

“I worked with Nico briefly at Williams and he’s not only a fast driver, he’s also a clever driver. That’s both in terms of his general approach and also his ability to understanding engineering.

“He’s a huge asset to the team.”

Sutil was in an F1 car for the first time since 2011

Sutil was in an F1 car for the first time since 2011

Force India remained with just one signed driver as the end of the the team’s four days in Barcelona. Paul Di Resta had sole driving duties on the first two days, before potential old hand Adrian Sutil took over on Thursday, hoping to get the second race seat ahead of Jules Bianchi who drove on Friday. Di Resta said he would welcome either driver as his team-mate.

“I know both [Sutil and Bianchi] very well. They’re both good people, and they’ve both been part of the team for a long time.

“It’s not affecting me in either way, shape or form. I’m working with my team of guys, I’m working with the same people that I’ve worked over the years and we’re developing this car to get the best out of it.”


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